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The police drama Hawaii Five-O captivated viewers for 10 seasons before airing its final episode in 2020. One of the original characters, Kono Kalakaua played by Grace Park, left the show unexpectedly in season 7, leading to much speculation among fans.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Grace Park, who played Kono Kalakaua, left Hawaii Five-O because she and co-star Daniel Dae Kim were unable to reach a deal with CBS over salary disputes.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll take a deep dive into Kono’s departure, examining the behind-the-scenes contract negotiations and how her character was subsequently written off the show.

We’ll also look at fan reactions and what Park has said about leaving Hawaii Five-O. Whether you’re a longtime viewer wondering why Kono left or a new fan catching up on the series, this article will provide all the key details around this major cast shakeup.

Kono’s Sudden Departure in Season 7

Grace Park

One of the most shocking moments for fans of the hit TV show “Hawaii Five-O” was the sudden departure of Kono Kalakaua, played by Grace Park, in Season 7.

Kono had been a beloved character since the show’s debut in 2010, and her absence left many viewers wondering what had happened.

Kono’s Absence and Eventual Write-Off

Kono’s absence in Season 7 was initially explained by the character taking a leave of absence from the Five-O task force to pursue a sex trafficking ring on her own.

However, as the season progressed, it became clear that Kono’s departure was more permanent.

In Episode 2 of Season 7, it was revealed that Kono had been assigned to a deep undercover mission, which meant she would no longer be a regular character on the show.

This news came as a shock to fans, who had grown to love Kono’s strong and independent character.

As the season continued, Kono’s absence was felt by both the characters on the show and the viewers at home. Her departure left a void that was difficult to fill, and many fans expressed their disappointment and sadness over her absence.

Eventually, Kono’s character was written off the show completely. In Season 8, it was explained that she had decided to leave the task force to start a family with her husband, Adam Noshimuri, played by Ian Anthony Dale.

While this provided closure for Kono’s storyline, it did little to ease the disappointment of fans who had grown attached to her character.

CBS’s Initial Explanation

When news of Grace Park’s departure broke, CBS released a statement saying that it was unable to come to an agreement with the actress on a new contract.

This left many fans wondering why such a popular character would be written off the show due to contract negotiations.

While the exact details of Park’s contract negotiations were never made public, it is not uncommon for actors to leave a show due to disagreements over salary or creative differences.

In the case of “Hawaii Five-O,” it seemed that CBS and Park were unable to reach a mutually agreeable solution, leading to Kono’s sudden departure.

Regardless of the reasons behind Kono’s exit, her absence from “Hawaii Five-O” left a void that was difficult to fill.

Fans of the show will forever remember Grace Park’s portrayal of the strong and determined Kono Kalakaua, and her departure will always be a topic of discussion among viewers.

Also read: The New Hawaii Five-O: A Comprehensive Overview

Salary and Contract Disputes

One of the main reasons for Kono’s departure from Hawaii Five-O was the salary and contract disputes that arose between the actress, Grace Park, and the network, CBS.

Negotiations between Park and CBS regarding her contract renewal took place, and it seems that they were unable to reach an agreement that satisfied both parties.

Park and Kim’s Negotiations with CBS

During the negotiations, Park and her co-star, Daniel Dae Kim, were seeking salary parity with their male counterparts, Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan.

They believed that their contributions to the show were just as valuable and deserved equal pay.

However, the negotiations hit a roadblock as CBS reportedly offered them a salary increase that fell short of their expectations.

According to reports, Park and Kim were looking for a significant raise to bring their salaries in line with O’Loughlin and Caan. They argued that their characters played pivotal roles in the show and were integral to its success.

Park had been with the show since its inception, and Kim had joined in the first season, making them important and beloved members of the Hawaii Five-O team.

Despite their efforts to negotiate a fair deal, Park and Kim ultimately decided not to renew their contracts and left the show.

Their departure came as a shock to fans who had grown attached to their characters and the dynamic they brought to the series.

CBS’s Position on Salary Increases

CBS, on the other hand, took a different stance on the salary increases requested by Park and Kim. The network maintained that they had offered a substantial raise, but it did not meet the actors’ expectations.

CBS emphasized that they valued the contributions of all their cast members and were committed to fair compensation.

It is important to note that salary disparities in the entertainment industry have been a long-standing issue, with many actors and actresses advocating for equal pay.

The departure of Park and Kim from Hawaii Five-O shed light on the ongoing struggle for pay equity in Hollywood and sparked discussions about the need for more diversity and inclusion in the industry.

Fan Reactions to Kono’s Exit

Grace Park

Anger Over Losing a Lead Asian Character

When it was announced that Kono Kalakaua, played by Grace Park, would be leaving the hit TV show Hawaii Five-O, fans were understandably upset.

Kono was not only a fan-favorite character, but she was also one of the few lead Asian characters on television. Many viewers expressed their disappointment on social media platforms, using hashtags such as #KeepKono and #RepresentationMatters.

The anger stemmed from the perceived lack of diversity in the entertainment industry and the loss of a strong, independent Asian character who had become an inspiration for many.

According to a recent study by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, only 3.4% of speaking characters in the top 100 films of 2019 were Asian.

This underrepresentation of Asian actors and characters on screen has led to frustration among viewers who want to see more diverse and inclusive storytelling.

One fan tweeted, “Losing Kono feels like a step backward in terms of representation on television. We need more characters like her who break stereotypes and show the strength and resilience of Asian women. #KeepKono #RepresentationMatters.”

Petitions to Bring Back Kono

In response to Kono’s departure, fans took action by starting petitions to bring back the beloved character. Online platforms such saw an influx of petitions demanding the return of Kono to Hawaii Five-O.

These petitions garnered thousands of signatures within a short period of time, demonstrating the passion and dedication of the show’s fanbase.

One petition titled “Bring Back Kono: Keep Diversity Alive on Hawaii Five-O” highlighted the importance of diverse representation on television.

The petition argued that removing Kono from the show would not only be a loss for fans but also a missed opportunity to showcase the talents and stories of Asian actors.

While it is unclear whether these petitions will have any impact on the show’s decision-making, they serve as a powerful reminder that fans have a voice and are willing to fight for the representation they believe in.

It is worth noting that the decision for Grace Park to leave Hawaii Five-O was reportedly due to contract negotiations and salary parity issues.

Despite this, the impact on fans and the conversations sparked about representation in the media should not be overlooked.

Grace Park’s Perspective on Leaving the Show

Park’s Comments on the Departure

When Grace Park made the decision to leave Hawaii Five-O, fans were left wondering what prompted her departure.

In an interview, Park shed some light on her decision and shared her perspective on the matter. She expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work on the show, but ultimately felt it was time for her to move on and explore other opportunities.

Park mentioned that the decision to leave was a difficult one, as she had formed strong bonds with her co-stars and crew members over the years.

However, she emphasized the importance of personal growth and felt that it was necessary for her to challenge herself in new ways.

She expressed excitement about what the future holds and expressed her gratitude to the fans for their support throughout her time on the show.

Her Thoughts on the Character of Kono

During her time on Hawaii Five-O, Grace Park played the character of Kono Kalakaua, a member of the Five-O task force. Kono was known for her intelligence, bravery, and dedication to her team.

Park expressed her appreciation for the opportunity to portray Kono and the impact the character had on viewers. She mentioned that Kono represented a strong and capable woman in a male-dominated field, and she was proud to bring that representation to the screen.

Furthermore, Park highlighted the importance of diversity and representation in television and film. She believed that Kono’s character helped break stereotypes and showed that women can be just as capable as their male counterparts in law enforcement.

Park hoped that her portrayal of Kono would inspire and empower young girls and women to pursue their dreams, regardless of societal expectations.

For more information on Grace Park’s departure from Hawaii Five-O, you can visit Entertainment Weekly’s article for an in-depth look at the situation.

The Future of Hawaii Five-O Without Kono

When Grace Park, the actress who portrayed Kono Kalakaua on Hawaii Five-O, made the difficult decision to leave the show, fans were left wondering about the future of their beloved character and how the show would adapt without her.

Kono was an integral part of the team, known for her intelligence, bravery, and strong moral compass. Her departure undoubtedly left a void that needed to be filled.

New Characters After Park’s Exit

The show’s creators recognized the importance of introducing new characters to maintain the dynamic and chemistry of the team.

They were faced with the challenge of finding someone who could not only fill Kono’s shoes but also bring a fresh perspective to the group.

Enter Tani Rey, played by Meaghan Rath, a skilled and determined former police academy recruit. Tani’s character adds a new layer of energy and excitement to the team, as well as a unique perspective that helps keep the show engaging for viewers.

In addition to Tani, the show also introduced Junior Reigns, played by Beulah Koale. Junior is a former Navy SEAL who brings his military expertise to the Five-O team.

His addition not only brings a new dynamic to the group but also allows for interesting storylines and action-packed episodes.

Also read: Is Chin Ho Kelly Leaving Hawaii Five-O?

How the Story Adapted to Kono’s Absence

The departure of Kono Kalakaua was not taken lightly, and the show’s writers and producers had to carefully navigate her absence in the storyline.

Rather than simply writing her off, they chose to address her departure in a way that honored the character and respected the fans.

In the show’s storyline, Kono left Hawaii to start a new chapter in her life, pursuing her passion for helping sex trafficking victims in the mainland.

This allowed for a heartfelt farewell and closure for the character, while also creating opportunities for future guest appearances or crossovers.

While fans were understandably disappointed to see Kono leave, the introduction of new characters and the show’s ability to adapt to change has kept Hawaii Five-O fresh and exciting.

The team continues to tackle thrilling cases and deliver the action-packed episodes that fans have come to love.

For more information about the future of Hawaii Five-O and the show’s new characters, you can visit the official CBS website:

Also read: Is Hawaii Five-O Cancelled?


Kono Kalakaua’s sudden departure in season 7 of Hawaii Five-O shocked loyal viewers who had grown to love both the character and actress Grace Park.

While initially attributed to a salary dispute, Kono’s exit highlighted larger issues of gender and racial pay equity in Hollywood.

Park herself has remained fairly tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding her leaving Hawaii Five-O, preferring to focus on the positive of having played such an iconic character for 7 seasons.

Even with Kono gone, the show continued on for 3 more years, adding new characters to fill the void. But for many fans, Kono was an irreplaceable part of what made Hawaii Five-O so special.

Though shows inevitably evolve over time, Kono will always be remembered as a groundbreaking leading lady who inspired viewers with her strength, intelligence and determination. Her legacy remains an integral part of Hawaii Five-O’s lasting pop culture impact.

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